BACKGROUND: Iridium North America sells satellite-based communications services through integrated wireless service providers and distribution partners. Iridium provides customers a unique service through its ability to transmit voice and text page to any destination on earth. As a new company with a growing customer base, Iridium saw the opportunity to put in place a world-class billing and customer care system. Since accurate taxing is part of quality customer care, it is our responsibility to ensure that accurate taxes are collected and reported. This is a difficult challenge given that local municipalities frequently change their boundaries, particularly in growing metropolitan areas.
PLATFORMS: Sun Microsystems Enterprise 4000 Server running Sun Solaris. We have one production site in Tempe, Arizona, and one test site in Reston, Virginia.
PROBLEM SOLVED: GeoTAX provides regular updates on changing tax jurisdiction boundaries and cross-references this information with address data. By using postal ZIP+4 data, tax jurisdiction information can be appended down to an individual street segment, even down to the side of the street on which the customer resides. This is crucial due to the fact that tax jurisdiction boundaries sometimes differ on the same street. Since many customers, particularly those new to an area, don't know what local tax authorities exist, GeoTAX is a valuable solution for determining accurate tax jurisdiction.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: GeoTAX possesses the ability to standardize and verify customer address records and assign ZIP+4 codes. The application also appends up-to-date geocodes for state, county and local municipality to each ZIP+4 address record. GeoTAX can also append other geographic data, such as latitude and longitude coordinates, to customer records. Software utilities such as the build program allow us to cross-reference geocode outputs from GeoTAX into the format used by third-party tax tables. Group 1 provides ongoing software and data support.
STRENGTHS: In tax jurisdiction assignment, GeoTAX addresses the two most important needs: 1) how to keep current on geographic boundary changes; and 2) how to accurately append boundary information to a specific customer's address. GeoTAX provides a comprehensive U.S. postal address database.
WEAKNESSES: The geocode outputs of GeoTAX don't always match the city and county names used by our tax table vendor. However, this is probably more of an issue with our tax table vendor.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Our billing software vendor recommended GeoTAX, and Group 1 provided support during our test and evaluation process.
DELIVERABLES: Once a customer's address information has been verified, the address information is then mapped to the corresponding geographic information. GeoTAX can append state codes, county codes and names, place (municipality) names and codes, place description or class codes and incorporated or unincorporated status codes to be used to determine proper taxing authorities. Group 1 provides product updates on a quarterly basis. Other jurisdiction data sets, such as school districts, are also available.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Although we have had occasional problems setting up new software releases and missing data master files, our experience with Group 1 has been mostly positive. We were recently informed that Group 1 is making changes to its technical support procedures and increasing resources to better respond to customer inquiries. Group 1 also provides entitlement training for all of its products.
DOCUMENTATION: The "How to Get Started With GeoTAX" user's guide provides background information on tax jurisdiction assignment issues. Group 1 product technical guides are provided, along with instructions on how to effectively set up jobs for using GeoTAX address validation and geocoding software components. Documentation is available via hard copy and online via the Group 1 Web site.
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